By Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life
If you’re self-employed, you’re not alone. Despite a slight dip in April, self-employment figures have been rising consistently, hitting their highest level in three years at 9.876 million in March.
The economy is changing, and how people work is changing with it. That creates a need to adapt in other areas of life, too, including relationships and finance.
But how do you do that? Factors such as long hours; inconsistent income, and the uncertainty of self-employment can cause stress you might not find in a traditional workplace environment.
And that doesn’t begin to address the potential disconnect between your own goals and those of your partner. To meet these challenges, consider the following:
Separate your accounts
Creating separate business and personal accounts can help you track your income and expenses more easily, as well as keeping your records straight for tax purposes.
When it comes to financing, you can fund your business out of your own pocket (in fact, you may have to), but you also may be able to call upon outside sources like investors and crowdfunding. Seeking bank loans is another possibility.
Obtaining outside financing means you’ll have less control, which could lead to greater stress because you’ll also be responsible to others for creating success. But you’d be motivated to do that, anyway.
Separating your accounts can help your relationship by making it clear to your spouse that you’re not using family funds to pay for your own dreams — at least not immediately or directly. This can give your partner assurance that you’re putting the family first and add to the level of security in your relationship.
Aim high, budget low
You have big goals for your business, but that doesn’t mean you can count on a certain income. In fact, one of the trickiest parts of self-employment is not knowing how much money you’ll make from one month to the next.
When you’re creating a personal budget, start with your lowest monthly income as your baseline. This can reduce your stress level as much as possible, while at the same time keeping you from overspending.
List your regular expenses, like utilities, rent/mortgage, car payment, fuel costs, food, etc., and go from there. Don’t forget costs like insurance, property taxes, and an emergency fund. Then you can add nonessential items like eating out, taking in a movie, streaming services, social club memberships, and so forth.
If you’ve got money left over after the essentials are paid, it may be tempting to reinvest in your business. But remember to think of your relationship, too. If you don’t spend anything on personal enjoyment, it will be easier to burn out. And neglecting to invest in quality time with your significant other can lead to hard feelings, possibly causing your relationship to suffer.
“Investing” implicates time and attention, as well as money. Finding the perfect work-life balance can feel like an unattainable goal. But you can approach a reasonable balance by creating boundaries between your home and work lives, both will benefit in the long run.
Have a backup plan
Obviously, having a backup plan is important when you’re running your own business. Unlike a traditional job, there’s no employer to act as a safety net if you make a mistake: It’s all on you. Consider these building blocks for your backup plan.
Just as insurance is necessary for your personal life, it’s important for your business, too. The Small Business Association lists six types of insurance small businesses should consider — some of which may be legally required in your state.
Protection against liability for product defects and injury, accusations of negligence, and property loss because of bad weather or other unforeseen crises are just some of the possibilities you should consider.
You’ll also want to have good credit if you need it, not only for investments but also to provide a cushion in the event of hard times. Know your credit score and understand the factors that go into it. Then you’ll be positioned to build your credit standing so you can prepare for success and provide a safety net for the future.
These days, having a backup means backing up your computer files, too. Store copies of all your important files on an external hard drive and/or the cloud. But if you put anything online, make sure your password’s protected and be aware of phishing and ransomware scams.
It’s also important to be able to weather any storms, literally. In addition to saving your changes regularly, invest in a surge protector for your electronics and other hardware. You may even want to consider a backup generator so you can keep working if the power goes out (especially if you live in an area prone to weather disruptions). After all, any disruption in work is a disruption in income.
Include your partner
One surefire way to build resentment in a marriage is to make major life decisions without your partner’s input. If you were traditionally employed, you wouldn’t take a job in a different city without talking to your partner. You shouldn’t make big self-employment decisions without their input, either.
Not only will talking to your significant other keep you both invested in your life together, but also you’ll access a different perspective and a wealth of ideas you may not have considered, both of which could benefit your business.
It can be a challenge to stay engaged in both aspects of your self-employed and married life. But if you include your partner, create personal and financial boundaries, and have a Plan B, you’ll put yourself in the best possible position to succeed.